Hito Steyerl
Liquidity Inc., 2014
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
22.10.14 – 04.01.15

The video installation Liquidity Inc. relies on a wave-like structure clad in blue mats, not unlike those used in martial arts studios, surrounded by similarly hued walls, to tell the story of financial advisor Jacob Wood. Born in Vietnam, where he became a war orphan, Wood emigrated to the U.S. under President Gerald Ford’s Operation Babylift, lost his job during the 2008 financial crisis and then embarked on a career in mixed martial arts. Water plays a central role in this peculiar story where, in a particularly intense interview, Bruce Lee describes how one must “become water” to be successful in martial arts.

In the video, Steyerl examines how water illustrates the relationship between individuals and capital, and connects abstract financial jargon with concrete meteorological manifestations. “Liquidity,” in its market form, is also a means of adapting – to new economic circumstances, weather patterns or political climates. In Bruce Lee’s words: “Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” References, from Hokusai to Wilhelm Reich by way of the Weather Underground, populate the video, underscoring the ideological and aesthetic flexibility of the metaphor throughout history. The title takes on an added meaning: corporatization meets corporality and a state of being becomes commodity.
– ML

Stills from Liquidity Inc., 2014, single-channel HD video installation with sound, 30 minutes (copyright: Hito Steyerl; courtesy of the artist and Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam)
Stills from Liquidity Inc., 2014, single-channel HD video installation with sound, 30 minutes (copyright: Hito Steyerl; courtesy of the artist and Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam)
Biography

Born in 1966 in Munich, Germany, Berlin-based artist and writer Hito Steyerl is one of the most critically acclaimed artists working in the field of video today. Her work straddles the borders between cinema and fine arts, and between theory and practice, exploring issues of militarization, the role of the media in globalization, and the mass proliferation and dissemination of images and knowledge brought on by digital technologies.

The Van Abbe Museum in Amsterdam recently presented her first large-scale mid-career survey show. In the last year, she has had solo exhibitions at both the Art Institute of Chicago and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), London. Her work has been included in the 2013 Venice Biennale and Istanbul Biennial, the 2010 Gwangju and Taipei biennials, the 2008 Shanghai Biennale, Documenta 12, Kassel, in 2007 and Manifesta 5 in 2004.  Her book The Wretched of the Screen, published by e-flux and the Sternberg Press (2012), has garnered critical attention. Steyerl is a professor of Art and Multimedia at the Berlin University of the Arts.

Videos
Panel: Skawennati, Amanda Beech, Jillian Mayer, Hito Steyerl - BNLMTL 2014